Lindenwood University Brothers Love Table Tennis

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chairman
Who's a better table tennis player? It's really hard to say when asking two brothers who are standouts on the Lindenwood University team.
That was the question asked Gabriel Skolnick, 22, and Micaiah Skolnick, 20, on Sunday at the NCTTA championship games in Round Rock, Texas. No doubt, inquiring minds want to know.
First, a little background. The Skolnick brothers grew up playing table tennis in the basement of their home in Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania near the Maryland border. The boys played the sport with their mom and friends, and got hooked at an early age.
In terms of ratings, reports show that Gabriel's rating stands at 2370 and Micaiah ranks at 2340. So that's pretty close. Flip a coin to see who's best on any given day. In terms of face to face USATT competition, one brother won 23 games, and the other chalked up 19 victories. That's close, too. So it really doesn't matter who holds the upper hand in that department.
What about countless games played for years in their basement in Peach Bottom? Evidently, statisticians in the Keystone State failed to keep up on that score. Gabriel was twelve and Micaiah was ten when they began playing in amateur tournaments and joined a local club. They became students at Lindenwood University in Saint Charles, Missouri. And the rest is history.
Both brothers are not only star players. They serve as key leaders for the Lindenwood Lions. An NCTTA powerhouse for nearly a decade, the school's coed team finished in 9th place at the 2016 national championships near Austin.
All season long, the Skolnick brothers remained valuable assets for the squad.
"I feel like they are leaders on the team, and tell us what to do in practice,'' said Lindenwood freshman Kevin Choo of South Korea. With both guys around, they helped the team build friendships, Kevin said while watching the games at the Round Rock Sports Center.
  In the Show Me State, Lindenwood boasts a solid team that's rich in terms of its diversity. Players come to the Missouri school from Egypt, Ecuador, China, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Mexico, and the USA. The list goes on. Lindenwood is among a handful of NCTTA schools that offers scholarships to outstanding players from around the globe.
  It helps communications with teammates that both Skolnick brothers speak Spanish.
  There are a few visible differences between the two young men. On Sunday, the younger Micaiah sported a beard. Older brother Gabriel had a beard until shaving it off recently.
   Both bright Lindenwood students are biochemistry majors who plan to pursue different career paths. Gabriel wants to pursue graduate studies at a physician assistant program. Micaiah expects to go to graduate school in physical chemistry and earn his doctorate. He's eyeing grad schools like Penn State and the University of Pennsylvania.
What attracts the Lindenwood brothers to table tennis? Traveling to tournaments far from home, the many friends they've made with people around the world, and the fun along the way. They both love life at the university near St. Louis and wearing the Black and Gold as table tennis players.
There were nice moments to remember for each of the Lindenwood Lions at Round Rock.
Gabriel Skolnick noted his strong effort, although it ended in a loss in singles against Texas Wesleyan star Emil Santos of the Dominican Republic. After going up against some of North America's top collegiate players, Micaiah is delighted to return to Lindenwood for his senior year and hopes to make the trip to the 2017 championships.
The 2016 NCTTA championship games are almost done, but the Skolnick brothers will keep playing in the weeks ahead and years to come. Gabriel and Micaiah expect to prepare for the upcoming American Team Championships near Chicago. Like many NCTTA players, they just can't live without the Olympic sport.